We’ve all done this before – we swear up and down that we’ll do this and that after the New Year. Then, the New Year comes – and our dedication seems to dwindle, disappearing altogether quite soon.
But is there a way to make our New Year’s resolutions stick? Is there a way to help ourselves achieve what we set out to achieve?
Well, of course there is. You just need to follow these tips if you want to keep the promises you made to yourself.
The Allure of Starting Over
There are quite a few reasons why we decide to make New Year’s resolutions in the first place.
We like the idea of starting from scratch – basically, a new year – a new you.
Also, we like the idea of improving ourselves, even in some minor ways.
Do you want to learn to play an instrument? Or are you simply looking to quit smoking or eat healthier food? Perhaps your goal includes recycling more?
There is a vast array of resolutions just waiting for December and you to choose. But there is also a vast array of chosen resolutions that later simply wait to be fulfilled.
So, if you’re looking to get your improvement fix in the new year and to make good use of that clean slate, here’s what you have to do to stick to your resolutions.
Now, keep in mind that some of the following tips will work on you and some won’t.
So, the best course of action would be to simply test a few and see if they’re a good fit. After all, you know yourself best.
1) Set Realistic Goals
Yeah, yeah, we know you’d probably like to start off big (which is your decision, in the end), but the first thing you should ask yourself is – are you up for the task?
Sometimes, we overestimate ourselves. We don’t mean this in a disparaging way. Simply, we sometimes believe we can do something that is not currently within our reach.
That is why you should sit down and try to see what a realistic goal you can manage in the following year can be.
Another good idea is to break down your big goals into smaller ones. That way, it will be easier to go through them and feel a sense of accomplishment once a smaller goal is met.
For instance, if you’re planning to run a marathon – you simply can’t start preparing by actually running a marathon every day, especially if you’re not particularly fit.
Your best bet would be to simply start working out and later on set up a training plan that slowly increases the duration of your running and the miles you cross. Also, you could first sign up for a 5K race that’s before the marathon, just to test yourself. That way, once you slowly build up your stamina and technique, running a marathon will be a completely achievable goal!
2) Make a Plan
Now, making a plan is actually key for motivation.
One of the reasons why our resolutions don’t seem to work is that we make them rather vague. Your New Year’s resolution might include getting in shape.
But what does that actually mean?
Without a plan, we doubt many of us would know.
However, if you set up your schedule in a realistic way, putting in, for instance, three time slots a week for the gym, you’re more likely to carry out your intention. Or, you can enroll in a yoga course or an aerobics one. That will also help you stick to your resolution.
Another good tip is to buy a calendar so you can actually physically write down your activities in the upcoming period. That way, you can look at it often and be reminded that you have something going on that should be paid attention to.
3) Talk It Over
If you keep your New Year’s resolution a secret, you’re more likely to simply disregard it later.
Hey, if no one knows, no harm – no foul, right?
(Well, that sounded ominous.)
All jokes aside, by actually telling someone about your plans, you have two benefits. First, you will have the support of your friends or family members, which means a lot. They will be able to motivate you to continue on your journey to self-improvement. Second, you’ll be too embarrassed to quit once you know someone else knows your plans. (Yeah, we know, this is not the greatest reason ever, but it actually works!)
Another thing you could do is get a buddy to help you with your goal. It’s sometimes called an accountability partner (we prefer the term buddy, though). If you have a buddy with whom you share how everything is going, you can focus more on the outcome and thus get one step closer to your goal.
You should also try to surround yourself with people that will support you in your goal. Truth is, if someone is not willing to stick with you through such a supposedly little thing, then they most likely will not support you through much bigger things.
For instance, if your New Year’s resolution is to spend less money, there’s no use in hanging out constantly with that one friend that’s up for lavish brunches and fancy dinners, now is there?
Now, we don’t mean to completely forget such friends. Don’t avoid them, simply spend less time with them, and more time with the people that will encourage you. That is a good way to stay on track with your decisions.
4) Bet on Yourself
No, we don’t mean literally bet on yourself.
Unless you really want to.
What we mean is that you should envision a consequence if you don’t meet your set goal.
For instance, you could put 50 dollars in a jar every 30 days if you haven’t been that active towards achieving your goal. Or you could give the money to your family or random people.
Basically, we’re all simple people – losing money hurts. And faced with the fear of losing it, you might actually be driven to achieving your goal just so you don’t have to pay.
If you’re not that big into throwing money away, you could “punish” yourself in other ways. For instance, by reducing your Instagram time to only 15 minutes a day. Oooor, not going out that weekend. Ooor, not going to see that play you’ve wanted (and paid for) for ages.
Hey, we’re not to blame that there are inventive ways of punishment.
5) Use Technology as Santa’s Little Helper
You most likely own a smartphone and various other gadgets to boot.
Use them to your benefit.
You can set reminders that will help you get going easier. If your New Year’s resolutions have something to do with weight loss or quitting smoking, there are various apps for that.
Technology can sometimes be overwhelming, but it can also sometimes help us reach our goals. Try it, you’d be surprised at how much help is out there.
There’s probably an app for every New Year’s resolution you can think of.
6) Patience is a Virtue
On your New Year’s resolution journey, you should always keep in mind that change does not come easily. It takes time, dedication and, yes, patience.
A whole lot of it.
According to some studies, forming a new habit can take anywhere between 18 and 254 days! Now, we don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty big difference.
So don’t be discouraged if you’re not seeing a change right away. Any change takes a while, and that simply means trudging for a bit before you can run (metaphorically speaking, of course, unless your goal actually is to run).
Remember, it will get easier. Just stick to it.
7) Don’t Beat Yourself Up
As we’ve mentioned before, change is not an easy process. Bettering oneself certainly isn’t.
One of the reasons many people quit is that they start berating themselves for slip-ups, seemingly forgetting that slip-ups are, in fact, normal.
So you couldn’t resist and smoked a cigarette on a particularly nerve-wracking day?
As long as that cigarette doesn’t get a buddy or two, you’re good!
Don’t hold everything against yourself. People make mistakes (and quite often, might we add). What is important is to continue on your path with fervor and zest, ready to tackle those obstacles.
As the song goes, always look on the bright side of life.
And if you can’t, make sure that your glance at the other side is brief.
New Year’s Resolutions Ideas
If you have a nagging feeling that you need to start fresh next year, but don’t know what to do, we have some good examples for you.
- Learn a new language – This is quite the multifaceted resolution. Learning a new language will help you in various ways – from improving your communication skills, to opening new doors for you job-wise. So, what are you waiting for? Pick the language you’ve always wanted to learn and get to it. You can try to pick up on the basics yourself, since there are plenty of online apps just for that purpose. Or, if you really want to cement that decision, you can enter a language course.
- Read more – Many of us used to read a lot when we were younger, but don’t read that much anymore. Jobs, commitments, life in general, gets in the way. But do you remember that feeling when you’re immersed in a good book? There’s nothing quite like it. So, your New Year’s resolution could be to pick up the habit again. Start small – one book a month, and, if you’re able to, build from there.
- Start eating healthier – Hey, we know, it’s hard with so much tasty fast food out there. And most of it’s not that healthy. But you gotta give your body a break. Again, start small – put in a salad here and there, reduce the amount of mayo you put on your sandwich. Trust us, your body will be grateful for it in the long run.
- Be more active – You don’t have to start with running a marathon. Simply deciding to get some exercise on weekend even will mean a great deal both for your physical and mental health. Studies have shown that occasional exercise is almost as good as regular exercise. So, if you’re not up for any regular exercise, indulge your body every once in a while for a healthier life.
- De-stress from time to time – While a lot of New Year’s resolutions revolve around us improving ourselves, there are some that are simply meant to give us a break, i.e. to help us improve our mental health by providing us with respite. So it’s good to do a thing or two just for yourself from time to time. Go watch a movie even though you have that paper to write. Go on a massage even though your boss is breathing down your neck for the latest report. Sometimes, we need a little time to ourselves to get rid of the stress that accumulates on a daily basis. Try indulging sometimes. (But always remember, moderation is key!)
- Quit smoking – Okay, this really goes without saying, but if you’re a smoker in this day and age, you’re disregarding science completely. The new-year-new-you mantra should definitely include getting rid of the possibly one of the unhealthiest inventions of mankind. There are various ways you can quit smoking, but it’s best if you were to estimate what will work for you.
- Become more organized – This one is, quite possibly, the hardest one we’ve proposed so far. But, if you have problems with organization, there are a few tips that could help you – always write things down, don’t procrastinate (hey, if something can be done today, you really shouldn’t leave it for tomorrow), make a place for everything in your life and last, but not least – delegate responsibilities. If you follow these few simple steps, you’ll be organized in the new year.
- Spend more time with friends and family – Sometimes, in the rush of our everyday lives, we forget to spend quality time with people that are near and dear to us. So, start the new year with your loved ones and make sure you let them know how much they mean to you.